The water temperature is still hovering in the low 70’s after this stretch of Southwestern winds. When the next cold front moves into our backyard and it pushes that water to the upper 60’s fish will be on the move, and fish will be chewing. So, make sure your gear is ready because our inshore fishing is about to absolutely go off!
Inshore: Inshore fishing has been decent, but it has not really been firing on all of its cylinders yet. Be ready, because all it’s going to take is one more Northeaster, and the Speckled Trout, Red Drum, and Flounder will begin flooding up and down our beaches, marshes, and our Intercoastal Waterway. Speckled Trout are going to be really aggressive when the water temp hits around the 67-69 Fahrenheit range. You can nail them on baits like the “Storm Swimshad”, “Trout-Trick”, "Berkley-Gulp Shrimp” and “Mirror-lure” (MR18 MR52 MR17 and MR27 models). Focus on areas with a shelly bottom for Speckled Trout at this time of the year. Broken up shell, Oyster Points, and bottom compositions that won’t absorb too much heat are where our Specks like to reside in the early to mid-fall patterns. Flounder fishing is going to get really solid off of the beach. The surf-zone is overlooked by many anglers, but a live Mullet on a Carolina Rig, or else a Gulp Shrimp on a Jig will catch many nice fish off of the beach at this time of the year. Also, places like the Newport River and ICW would be great places if you planned on staying close to home. Red Drum will also be available along the beach. Cut Mullet, Gulp Shrimp, or Live Mullet on a Carolina Rig will all catch Red Drum from the beach. A Mirror-lure off the beach could get you a bite from just about anything that’s following the Mullet, so always carry a few hard baits with you if you are fishing the surf-zone. False Albacore fishing is really good right now; “Breakday Jigs” “Stingsilvers” and “Kastmaster Spoons” are all good choices for the Albertos. You will want a fast and steady retrieve if you are throwing metal spoons for False Albacore. There have been some Pompano, Sea Mullet, Spot, Croaker, Bluefish and Black Drum for the anglers bottom fishing the beach. There are some very large Spanish Mackerel out towards the Cape that are firing off, many of them are over 4lbs. Live-lining a live Mullet on thin wire with a #8 treble hook will do the job for the bigger Spanish. Sheepshead are still here, they are still on bridge and dock pilings chewing away on Sea Urchins and Crabs. Amberjack and King Mackerel fishing has been good, with some really nice Kings showing up in the Shipping Channel, and the Amberjack in areas like Northwest Places and other nearshore live bottoms.
Fly Fishing: Red Drum are available to be taken from the beach on a calm day at this time of the year. Fly fishing the beaches of Bogue Inlet and Browns Inlet are great places. Also, don’t overlook the Fort Macon Rock Jetty, you might get lucky and have a nice Speckled Trout as bycatch. Meaty “Baitfish-Emulator” flies with a lot of orange/chrome/gold flash are great meat whistles to deploy along our beachfront for a hungry Red Drum. Retrieve with a “Strip-Strip-Pause” cadence, it is also important to “strip-set” while you retrieve your fly line. This essentially means that you are setting the hook with every strip of the fly line (you do this so you don’t miss a hook set on a fish). False Albacore are all over the place, the bigger and more aggressive fish have been behind shrimp trawlers, and these fish will also eat a meatier sized fly. The smaller schools of Albies on the beach are fixated on Bay Anchovies, so you’ll want a smaller fly, something like a tan Clouser-Minnow tied on a size 10-12 hook would be a great fly option. Flounder can be taken on the fly right now as well. Focus on fishing calm days on the beach for them with a white-chartreuse colored Clouser-Minnow, or else focus on oyster beds and shelly bottoms along the ICW.
Offshore: Right now the Wahoo fishing has been good. There will be some really large ones caught in the next couple of months. Trolling Ballyhoo with wire is your best option, although we often wonder what a guy could do if he tried slow trolling some live Shad. Sailfish and White Marlin are still chewing for the offshore fleet as well. Bottom fishing for Grouper has been good, but there are a few guys around town who have really been burning them up (We have some really talented Grouper fisherman in this area). Before you know it, all the offshore crowd will be four miles off the beach fishing for Bluefin Tunas! If you are new to offshore fishing, use your electronics and trust them, also never overlook any life in the area.
Tight Lines from Freemans Bait and Tackle